Magical White-gaped Honeyeater (Stomiopera unicolor)

Habitat: The white-gaped honeyeater (Stomiopera unicolor) is noisy and aggressive like other honeyeaters. The white-gaped occupies streamside thickets and shrubberies throughout the tropical eucalypt woodlands of northern Australia. Wherever it occurs, it is sedentary. Established pairs and small groups seem to limit themselves to the same small foraging range year-round. This they defend with active chasing and loud chirruping songs, often in duet, from vantage points in the shrubbery.
Flight from shrub to shrub is less erratic and jerky than that of other honeyeaters. Both sexes feed on the young. A male approaching the nest with food calls loudly, to which the female replies and leaves the nest. If no bird broods, approaches are silent. Parents swallow the fecal sacs of newly hatched children but later carry them off.
It is also known as the River Honeyeater and the Erect-tailed Honeyeater.
It is also known as the river honeyeater and the erect-tailed honeyeater. Photo Credit: Geoff Whalan
Diet: White-gaped honeyeaters feed under shrubbery and within the tree canopy, hopping actively with tails often part-cocked, picking fruit, and gleaning insects and spiders from twigs, trunks, and foliage. They occasionally join other honeyeaters to collect nectar from flowering trees.
Identification: Both sexes are similar. The upper parts are plain dark gray with a hint of green; the feather shafts and crown are darker. Wing and tail quills are gray-brown, edged green-lemon. Lores are dark gray to black. Underparts are mid-plain gray, sometimes with a vague lemon wash. Eyes are gray to gray-brown. Bill is black with a conspicuous white gape flange. Feet are leaden. Immature birds are similar to adults but have a heavier lemon wash on their underparts and on the edges of their wings.
Vocalization: White-gaped honeyeaters make explosive chews or chops, as well as miner-like peeping. However, the song consists of rollicking, trilling whistles, like Singing and Varied Honeyeaters.
Nesting: Nesting and breeding occur in September–March, sometimes later. Nests are cup-shaped, made of bark strips, particularly Melaleuca inner bark, grasses, rootlets, and hair, and bound with cobwebs and cocoons. The nest is lined with fine grass, usually suspended by a rim in the fork of a small tree, often over water.
Eggs: The bird lays two eggs; smooth, slightly lustrous white to pale flesh with freckles of red and purple, particularly at the larger end; oval, about 22 x 17 mm.
Distribution: White-gaped honeyeaters are found in tropical Australia, from Broome, WA, to Townsville, QLD. Humid thickets in woodland, such as paperbark swamps, vegetation along rivers, pandanus, and freshwater and estuarine mangroves Visits suburban parks and gardens. Common.
Races: There are no races.
Alternative Names: It is also known as the river honeyeater and the erect-tailed honeyeater.
Size: The white-gaped honeyeater measures 180–200 mm long.
Read More: Varied honeyeater (Gavicalis versicolor)
The white-gaped honeyeater (Stomiopera unicolor) is noisy and aggressive like other honeyeaters.
The white-gaped honeyeater (Stomiopera unicolor) is noisy and aggressive, like other honeyeaters. Photo Credit: Geoff Whalan